IF HE WAS MY PROFESSOR, I'D WANT A GUN TOO

Over at the Putz my attention was directed to this news item in which Glenn Reynolds expresses his opinion about a bill in the Tennessee legislature to allow concealed firearms on campus. As an experienced educator, Glenn takes the only sensible position:

Yet UT-Knoxville law professor and Libertarian Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds said he supports Campfield’s bill. “I have a number of students who are licensed to carry weapons and I’d feel safer, not less safe, knowing that they are carrying on campus. I certainly would feel safer if some of my colleagues were armed, too,” he said.

Such a comment would lead me to question whether the speaker has ever stood in front of a classroom in his or her life. Since Mr. Reynolds clearly has done so, I must proceed to questioning just how profoundly this person is retarded.

There I go throwing around that word again. Sorry. I can think of none other to describe someone who has stood at the front of a giant public university lecture hall packed with 150 sleep-deprived, emotionally unbalanced, substance abusing, clinically depressed, and stressed out 20 year olds and thought, "You know what would make me feel safer? If they all had fucking guns."

It's important to absorb that point before moving on. He is arguing that if people carried loaded, concealed firearms around on campus it would be a less dangerous place.

"But a concealed carrier could have stopped the Virginia Tech shooter!" they say, cherry-picking a scenario that suits their argument. OK, let's grant that. Someone shoots the rampaging lunatic before he can kill more than a couple folks. 30 lives are saved. I wonder how, in a year-end accounting, those 30 lives would stack up against the – what, dozens? hundreds? not thousands, of course – of additional homicides that would take place by giving a huge, mentally unstable group of adolescents and young adults ready access to a loaded firearms at all times. Like, "My girlfriend dumped me, I failed Calc 242, and I've been awake for three days on peyote and playing Counter-Strike. I'm 19 and prone to irrational behavior befitting my inability to control my emotions. If only I had a…wait, I do have a gun!" Of course, other concealed carriers could shoot this hypothetical person before he could go on a rampage, so Glenn is right: the campus would be safer excepting (and in his opinion, thanks to) the intermittent vigilante gun battles between unstable teenagers.

A historian and firearms enthusiast who I am pleased to know once waxed lyrical about the American Old West, which he considered to be a more polite and mannerly time. His argument was that with men constantly armed they were more civil to one another lest the six-shooters be called into action. This logic (or "logic") always amazed me. People were more polite to one another because they were afraid of insulting someone who was armed, and they were afraid because people who insulted one another regularly resolved their differences with guns. So it was a more polite and genteel time because people shot the living fuck out of one another in public in the not uncommon event of insults being traded, bets being welched upon, or the heroic intake of hard liquor made in the boiler tank of a locomotive.

Ah, the good old days. Hopefully they'll be here again soon, at least in Tennessee. As about half of the undergrads in a freshman/sophomore class are either totally devoid of life experience, drunk 19 hours daily, on drugs, being treated for depression, some combination thereof, or just plain ol' immature, I can think of no way to improve upon the situation except to introduce into it a lot of loaded guns. I mean, what could go wrong?

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41 Responses to “IF HE WAS MY PROFESSOR, I'D WANT A GUN TOO”

  1. Mike Says:

    I'm so glad nobody gave me a gun the second semester of my sophomore year. That would have been a mess.

  2. Mike Says:

    Also, failing a math class while playing counterstrike. and making a mess of oneself. Good times.

  3. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D. Says:

    Yesterday I had the double-whammy of teaching feminist ethics/Guidelines for Working With Women and Girls in my undergrad psychology ethics class, followed 15 minutes later by cross-cultural issues in research and practice in the Theories of Personality section. These are always nerve-wracking because the Young Republicans students generally stare at me like I am some left-over '60s radical who doesn't know what she's talking about. I can almost hear the clicking of their adolescent eye-rolls.

    I came home exhausted, and am still tired this morning. Those are anxiety-provoking lectures, and I should never have got them into two separate syllabi on the same day. I can only imagine how much worse it would have been had I stood up there imagining the clicking of 3 dozen little hammers every time I uttered the word "patriarchy".

  4. Misterben Says:

    The gun lobby loves to cite that Virginia Tech example, just as you say: oh, if only more students at that school had been carrying guns, they could have stopped that crazy kid.

    What they fail to mention is that, if it wasn't for America's loosey-goosey gun laws, that crazy kid would never have succeeded in killing so many people. He would have been running around campus with a stapler, or maybe a butter knife from the cafeteria, and any given sorority girl could have taken him down with the pepper spray in her purse.

  5. Matthew Says:

    Oh man, I cannot tell you how many times I've gone on stapler rampages. Unfortunately, most of the time no one even noticed. The only time I would even get a response is when somebody who was in charge of ordering supplies for some office or another would say, "Please don't waste those."

  6. Kevin Says:

    I figured I'd put in my two cents here as someone who is a Police Officer (I know a liberal cop. So scandalous!) and might have to respond to a campus/work place shooting. The last thing I want to roll up on is a gun battle between students or co-workers. Recently in Houston there was a case of a disgruntled worker coming in with a Cross Bow who apparently shot a co-worker with it. Several armed workers started shooting up the place (hitting absolutely nothing thank God) before Officers arrived and shot the medieval times reject (who was armed with a pistol as well). Since homicidal maniac students/workers don't wear "I'm bat shit crazy and want to kill people" shirts how am I supposed to figure out who's doing what. Imagine running into a building and people are shooting at each other and you don't know who's doing what. Better yet imagine a gun toting student shooting another vigilante simply because he thought he was about to do something. "Active Shooter" (what we call crazy people shooting students/co workers) situations are chaotic enough without several more guns and trigger happy idiots running about.

  7. Ed Says:

    What do the police know. This is about the SANCTITY OF THE 2ND AMENDMENT! That's far more important. I mean, what could be better for the cops than to show up and have a dozen retards acting out their Rambo fantasies and firing wildly around an enclosed space full of people?

  8. JohnR Says:

    One of my favorite memories comes from my soph year at JHU; I was in class trying to keep up with the lecture when I started hearing this strange squeaky, crunchy noise. It literally took me a couple minutes to figure out it was me grinding my teeth. I doubt very much, however, if more than a quarter of the student body was as desperately stressed as I was. Who in their right minds would want to make it easier for those of us with short fuses and bad eyes to carry around something easy to miss with and easy to kill with? As for these "old west" nutjobs, living in Baltimore, as I do, I'm well aware that gunfights often result in random injuries and deaths, because even the hitters are often not great shots and cool under fire. How a competent historian could imagine that MAD made the more lawless "old west" towns safer than modern towns kind of amazes me. Still, ideological information-filters are a human occupational hazard regardless of politics. Not much difference between blinkered leftys and blinkered rightys in the ability to see one tiny part of the picture as the whole landscape.

  9. Shane Says:

    I actually tried to make this exact argument with my students yesterday as we began our section on gun control politics and were discussing the Virginia Tech incident. It is hard to make this argument without sounding like your condescendingly stereotyping the entire student body. There were a fair share of head nods though from students who realized that they seriously did not trust their peers, with whom they shared dorm and frat life with, with firearms.
    We also watched the 30 Days episode about gun control, available on Hulu, in which the argument provided above by the police officer is articulated by a student at the Univ of Utah, were students are actually allowed to carry concealed firearms.

  10. Begonia Buzzkill Says:

    Yeah, we all will use whilst cringing inside using "retarded" to describe our shock and awe reactions to this type of mindset

    ….. so I give you this jewel to avoid the 'retard' cringe any decent human doesn't want:

    He and his ILK are "intellectually AND spritually constipated"

    . . .and without doubt his ilk require an atomic colonic to shake loose an iota of rational thought.

    It has come in mighty handy to avoid disparaging the mentally handicapped who happen to have a sense of humanity that he and his ilk are incapable of exhibiting.

  11. Begonia Buzzkill Says:

    sorry for typos . . . too much cacaphony and distractions around me as I typed/posted . .

    "intellectually and spiritually constipated"

    comes in mighty handy to avoid disparaging the handicapped.

  12. Shamash Says:

    For a site with the generally high intelligence of this one, why has no one brought up that students in many states will in many cases be underage or be out of state residents and unable to get a concealed carry permit, varying with state.

    More importantly and obviously, if someone is of a mindset to use a concealed firearm, why would their inability to get a permit to carry it be a deterrent?

    After all, you would not want or need a concealed carry permit unless you already owned a pistol. So, the drunken, stressed, immature, etc. students being fretted over either do not own guns and are thus not a problem, or they already own guns and still manage to own them in a responsible fashion.

    I will not deny that having easy access to a firearm in public obviously increases the chances it will be used (for good or ill), but shouldn't background checks for mental illness or criminal conduct be part of the vetting process for an individual, rather than having misconduct in general concept disqualify an individual with an unblemished record? That would be very akin to racism (ala "driving while black"), except in this case one is villified not because of the actions of a minority who share your skin color, but because of the minority who misuse an inanimate object you also happen to own.

    Please, less hyperbole, more thought.

  13. Ed Says:

    Here in Indiana, both possession and permit-carry are 18+, as is the case in almost 30 states.

  14. ladiesbane Says:

    Please, please: try to keep in mind that anyone who wants to buy a gun may do so, legally or not, and that having a rule against it is meaningless if a person is determined. May I point out that underage drinking is illegal, and smoking pot is illegal, and that college campuses lack for neither?

    It's like saying "you can't drive without a license." Not true. I have a friend who has been driving without a license for years. It's only a complication if he gets caught.

    Please also keep in mind that smaller people (especially girls), some physically handicapped people, and the physically weak (generally) are living on their own for the first time on campus, and are at the mercy of larger, stronger meat-heads who are finding out just how much evil they can get away with. Mace is meaningless in most cases, especially when an attacker is drugged, and stun-guns and knives are close-quarter tools that are easily taken away. A gun will make a person BACK UP. If that person doesn't, a gun can trump his ace. And it's the only meaningful weapon if there is more than one guy following you home from the library.

    I'm a girl who is just over 5'2". If you were me, would you trust every single boy, prof, bum, janitor, groundskeeper, clerk, and random dude who is, as you said, "sleep-deprived, emotionally unbalanced, substance abusing, clinically depressed, and stressed out"?

  15. James F. Elliott Says:

    I support very liberal application of the Second Amendment. I am also vociferously opposed to allowing students to carry weapons on campus. The assumption, unfortunately, is that there's a lot of training required to get your CCW. In a lot of states, it just isn't so.

  16. Nick Says:

    I go to the University of Utah. A few years back, when concealed carry on campus was first legalized after a lengthy battle between the school administration and the state legislature, there were innumerable predictions exactly like those you've given. Roommates would shoot each other for music playing too loud, liberals would be massacred by conservatives during classroom discussions, and drunken frat parties would result in poorly aimed gun battles.

    So what has happened in the years since? Absolutely fucking nothing. All of the sky-is-falling predictions given by pro-gun control people have utterly failed to materialize.

    Do I necessarily think that I'm safer because people can carry guns on campus? No, not really; then again, I never felt particularly unsafe here to begin with. But I certainly don't feel any less safe, because anyone who is carrying a gun on campus under the new law is someone who has gone through background checks and fingerprinting and has a concealed carry permit. If they're carrying without a permit, they were probably carrying before the law went into effect anyway. That's the thing about gun control; it only affects those who are inclined to follow the law in the first place, and someone who's going to shoot up his Calculus class is probably not the kind of person who would have been particularly concerned about whether or not the law made our campus a "gun-free zone."

    As for Misterben's theory that Virginia Tech wouldn't have happened in the first place if we had stricter gun controls–what about the recent shooting in Germany? There, you have to be a registered, licensed member of a gun club to own a firearm, and all guns are registered with the government. It's the kind of gun laws that the Brady Campaign would love to see enacted in the States, and yet they didn't keep some psychopath from shooting up his school.

    On a smaller, non-"rampage" scale, gun control hasn't worked in England–overall gun crime rose 73% in the decade following the Dunblane massacre and subsequent near-ban of firearms, and handgun crime almost doubled, despite the fact that all handguns are completely banned.

    If gun control actually worked, I'd be more inclined to support restrictions on the Second Amendment. But anti-gun laws restrict the rights of regular citizens while doing precisely dick to control crime. Such laws are useless at best, and appeals to emotion and hypothetical scenarios of blood-drenched study groups won't change that.

  17. Batocchio Says:

    Unless you're talking about something like a weapons training course or a historic musket demonstration, there is no role for firearms in education. I remember some rightwingers saying the same crap about liking that their students were packing heat when Virginia Tech happened. It's insane. They can keep legally-registered guns at home, but they have *no role on campus*.

    Shamash, you're missing the main point. This specific law is not the big issue. Reynolds and others are arguing that campuses would be safer is the students were armed. That's the main point of Ed's post.

  18. Ed Says:

    The evidence that gun control works is hidden right behind the evidence that concealed carry works. It's supposed to reduce crime, right? Show me that it does that, or anything other than give yahoos the right to have a gun at the ready whenever they feel it's prudent to start blasting away like assholes (see cop post above).

    When you're done, show me where having a gun in the home makes one safer and not, as the statistics show, that guns kept at home are 20 times more likely to kill a family member than the Boogeyman.

  19. Mike Says:

    Guns are awesome to steal. They are easy to carry, and easily resold to a criminal community. It's like finding a $200 bill in some guy's nightstand.

    The Effects of Gun Prevalence on Burglary: Deterrence vs Inducement (Cook):

    "…theoretical considerations do not provide much guidance in predicting the net effects of widespread gun ownership. Guns in the home may pose a threat to burglars, but also serve as an inducement, since guns are particularly valuable loot. Other things equal, a gun-rich community provides more lucrative burglary opportunities than one where guns are more sparse. The new empirical results reported here provide no support for a net deterrent effect from widespread gun ownership. Rather, our analysis concludes that residential burglary rates tend to increase with community gun prevalence."

  20. Nick Says:

    So wait, because it's debatable whether concealed carry reduces crime, we should continue to enact useless gun control laws? Please explain.

    Also, you're referring to the Kellerman study, which stated that a gun in the home was 43 times more likely to result in the death of a family member than to be used in self-defense. The Brady Campaign loves to quote this one in an attempt to convince you that if you own a gun you'll end up shooting your kid. But the study is horrendously flawed. First off, Kellerman counted suicides in his numbers of familial deaths–suicides make up 57% of gun deaths in the US, and the vast majority of gun deaths in the home. Unless you think that gun control also prevents people from overdosing, hanging themselves, slitting their wrists, drinking bleach, and jumping off the roof, suicide is irrelevant to the discussion. Secondly, Kellerman only counted defensive gun uses which resulted in the death of the criminal. According to Gary Kleck, an FSU criminologist, 92% of defensive gun uses don't involve a single shot fired–the criminal sees the gun or hears someone cock it and gets the fuck out. The remaining 8% often result in wounding rather than killing. So basically, Kellerman vastly inflated the number of family deaths, while discounting the overwhelming majority of defensive firearm uses.

    Furthermore, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated in a 1997 study (done under the Clinton administration, which wasn't a huge fan of guns) that guns are used 1.5 million times per year in self-defense; the vast majority of these, again, don't involve a shot fired and thus are rarely deserving of a news story (please note, I'm not claiming "liberal media bias;" it's just that "Woman Pulls Gun, Dude Runs Away, Woman Makes Police Report and Then Goes Home to Eat Ice Cream" is a pretty piss poor headline).

  21. Ed Says:

    You're mischaracterizing my argument by assuming that I buy yours, re: the futility of gun control laws. "Dangerous lunatic who was probably going to kill someone prevented from buying firearm" doesn't make much of a headline either.

  22. Nick Says:

    The CDC couldn't find any evidence that a single gun control law–not waiting periods, not "assault weapons" bans, not "gun-free zones," not one-a-month gun laws–worked. In the 30 years following the passage of DC's now-overturned gun ban, homicide rates were never as low as they were the year prior to passing the ban. This is in addition to England's gun ban mentioned above. I'm not necessarily arguing that gun-control laws increase crime–I'd like to see a study on the subject which controlled for other variables–but they certainly haven't been effective in decreasing it.

    As for preventing dangerous people from buying guns, federal background checks are already performed by all gun dealers in the country. After Virginia Tech, the law was changed to improve reporting on mental illness as well–a change which, by the way, was supported by the NRA. I have no problem arresting felons who try to buy guns at gun stores; the problem is that so few of them do.

  23. Jeremy Says:

    Seriously, Germany and the UK have firearms-related violence on a much smaller scale than the US (see link). Throwing out a couple of anecdotal recent headlines to prove your point is irresponsible.

    http://www.allcountries.org/gun_deaths_by_country.html

  24. j Says:

    @Nick

    Most of your points are well-thought-out and valid. However, I disagree with you about one major point, that is the dismissal of gun ownership-induced suicides as a significant reason to decrease gun ownership. I feel that this is a strong reason to promote a decrease in gun ownership.

    My understanding of suicides is that they occur in transient moments when people feel weak and helpless, and that they happen when an easy and, importantly, quick means to the end is available. Hence, you do not see people often offing themselves by, for example, burning themselves alive. It's most often gunshots or sometimes pills. Even the fear of heights might scare someone from jumping off a building. Pulling a trigger only takes a fraction of a second, and so there is no prolonged thought process in which the person has to keep thing 'Yes, I want to do this.' Sure, there are going to be some people who are bent on dying and you'll never stop that, but I expect that the majority of suicides wouldn't happen if it weren't so darn easy to kill oneself.

    An example of is the fences on the Golden Gate Bridge. The city of SF has studied it and concluded that they would prevent most of the suicides if they only increased the fence from 5 feet to 10 feet, but they don't want to ruin the tourists' precious views. In the documentary The Bridge they interviewed a guy who survived the fall, and he said that as soon as he jumped, he realized that he made a mistake and that he wanted to live! Lucky he gets a second chance—if he had put a gun to his head there never would have been even the time to change his mind.

  25. Nick Says:

    Jeremy: You're correct that the US has more gun-related deaths than most countries. But is that because of a lack of gun control or other factors? We also have much higher incidences of knife crime, unarmed assault, rape, and virtually ever other violent crime. Guns don't cause those, so there must be another reason. Those, of course, are far more complex–lack of job opportunities, poor education, lack of healthcare, the drug trade, etc, etc. Addressing these myriad causes of crime and poverty is much more difficult than just saying "IT'S CAUSE WE HAVE TOO MANY GUNS!" and it's a lot less likely to get votes.

    j: Your point is valid to a degree. But at the same time, there are a lot of ways to kill yourself. The CDC did find that lower gun ownership rates have a small impact on suicides, but only in people over 55 and to such a small degree that the study was inconclusive. The fact is, if someone is determined to kill themselves, there's nothing that anybody else can do about it–which is one of the reasons it's so fucking terrifying. That said, I think it's a good idea to keep your personal firearms well-secured, particularly if you have someone with mental health issues living with you. Nonetheless, I don't feel that this is a reason to restrict anyone's rights. It's just something to consider before making the decision to buy a gun.

  26. Shamash Says:

    Some good comments here. Let me pose a basic principle and see whether anyone agrees with it.

    "in a free society, you must tolerate lifestyles you do not necessarily feel are moral or proper so that you retain the freedom to engage in a lifestyle that others might not feel is moral or proper."

    I could easily make a logical case that widespread ownership of personal computers contribues to a decline in morals through pornography, makes it easy for extremists and hate groups to share information in an encrypted manner, and wastes countless hours in the workplace that hurts the national economy. And therefore, PC's and internet access should be tightly controlled and require background checks and "demonstrated need". Might sound silly at first glance, but the man-hours saved in productivity could easily be several thousand lifetimes per year. I could make similar arguments against pornography in general, the private ownership of automobiles, automobiles that can go faster than the national speed limit, the prohibition of alcohol, etc. Arguments that seem irrational, emotional or biased to one side of an issue seem quite serious to another. Gun control is just one of these issues.

    So, do those reading this feel that a citizen with no criminal record or history of mental illness should be prohibited from owning (and possibly carrying) an inanimate object because you feel that it in the best interest of society to prohibit it? And then, are you willing to accept it without complaint if someone else prohibits something you consider reasonable, but which they consider a matter of public health and safety?

    I believe that individuals should be judged as much as possible on what they do, not what they might do, and I apply that uniformly as possible so as to avoid being a hypocrite. Do I really need to quote a study that side A believes is gospel and side B believes is propaganda? Not really.

    As relating this to the original post, I am of two minds. If state law prohibits concealed carry in all state-owned buildings, then a uniform application of the law would prohibit concealed carry at state-funded colleges. If private businesses can prohibit concealed carry on their premises, then a private college should be able to do the same within its bounds. If, however, a university is considered a "public space", then the laws regarding concealed carry there should be the same as for any other public space. And this chain of logic and argument has nothing to do with stressed-out 19-year olds, and merely addresses consistent application of existing law. I'd feel the same way about the law if it dealt with smoking or consumption of alcohol in such locations.

    Are firearms dangerous? Hell yes. That's their purpose. This discussion would not be happening if it was nerf guns we were talking about. So, I am in favor of treating them with respect, caution and common sense. Much like I treat two-ton automobiles hurtling down the highway with the same kinetic energy as a cannon shell. Am I irrationally afraid of firearms in the possession of nearby strangers? No more so than I am irrationally afraid of walking down the sidewalk as strangers in cars and buses zip past.

  27. Nick Says:

    Well said, Shamash. As for the public vs. private space issue you bring up, I'd point out that the open nature of college campuses (no controlled access, no fencing, little security) makes them for all intents and purposes public places.

  28. Ed Says:

    The tired old "cars kill people too" argument? Come on, you can do better than that. And as for this:

    "I could easily make a logical case that widespread ownership of personal computers contribues to a decline in morals through pornography"

    Well, brother, go right ahead and try to make that argument. I dare you. Yes, you can make it quite easily. It won't make any sense and it will be wrong, but it's easy to make.

  29. Shamah Says:

    Ed,
    Like I said, "Arguments that seem irrational, emotional or biased to one side of an issue seem quite serious to another". I happen to feel that many if not all anti-firearms arguments fall into the category of, as you said,

    • can be made quite easily
    • won't make any sense
    • and will be wrong

    Or at least, pro-gun advocates will see it that way.

    You seem to be going out of your way to show the weakness of your viewpoint by verging on personal attacks, being condescending to those who oppose you. You have already characterized gun owners or potential gun owners as "retards", "yahoos", and "assholes". Demonizing your opponents is not a form of sound argument, it is a form of demagoguery. And, you have failed to address my primary position:

    “in a free society, you must tolerate lifestyles you do not necessarily feel are moral or proper so that you retain the freedom to engage in a lifestyle that others might not feel is moral or proper.”

    It is not about cars or guns or cigarettes, it is about tolerating people who believe differently than you and who have done nothing to harm you. Since the vast majority of sexual crimes are committed by men, should all men be objects of suspicion by women? Are you suspicious of all Muslims because of 9/11? Do you harbor a grudge against all priests because a few have been pedophiles? Are all soliders suspect in your opinion because of Abu Gharaib? Are all drivers suspect because a few drive while intoxicated? Are all people who own or want to own guns suspect because of a few high profile crimes?

    A person can choose to be biased, bigoted or irrational on an issue. That's their right and I won't oppose it. If you are staunchly opposed to guns, no one will force you to change that belief or to own a gun. But if the core basis for your belief is not one that you use for everything else, then you do not have a sound argument, you merely have a personal bias. And a personal bias is not sufficient to use the force of government to coerce someone else's behavior.

    In most arguments, the side that is the most strident tends to be the side with the weakest position.

    Ed, will you continue to be strident and weaken your position in the eyes of everyone else reading this, or will you propose a sound counter-argument?

  30. Ed Says:

    Ha ha ha! Oh man. I thought for a second that a pro-gun zealot just called my argument strident. Ha ha. Good one.

    This may shock you, but I don't particularly give a shit if you think my argument is weak. You and like three other gun fetishists think it is. I am OK with that. It's cute that you delude yourself into thinking that you speak for "everyone reading this," most of whom (based on my years of experience with this blog) are reading your argument and trying to figure out how you found this blog from Boortz.com or Free Republic.

    I have no interest in trying to change your mind. By all means, persist in your fallacious reasoning and bad analogies, and every night you can rest easily knowing that your gun is making you safer and guns make America a safer place. Believe whatever you want. The fact that I'm not laying out a long, point-by-point argument to please you (and which you'll immediately disregard anyway) is that your argument refutes itself. If you don't like or believe that, fine. Good for you. Thanks for stopping by.

    As for your main "point", this is not a "lifestyle." It's a preference. It's something you want to do that has dire consequences for other people who want no involvement in your choices. I'm sure that flamethrowers and shoulder-launched missiles are A) tons of fun to shoot and B) extremely effective at stopping an attacking criminal. Should those be legal too? Well, guns aren't any different. You think they should be legal because they have some valid sporting/recreational purpose and you can use them to shoot the Negroes who are going to try to break into your house in your imagination. Those are the positives. Now let's consider the negatives. The fact that you can't make a point without resorting to Talk Radio jargon about "liberty" and "individual freedom" is the soundest possible evidence that you have no argument that can even suggest, let alone prove, that the benefits of liberal (pun intended) firearms ownership laws have outweighed the costs.

    If you want, we can take a poll of how strong "everyone reading this" finds your argument, but I doubt you'll like the results.

  31. Ed Says:

    Nick, I overlooked this one:

    "As for preventing dangerous people from buying guns, federal background checks are already performed by all gun dealers in the country. After Virginia Tech, the law was changed to improve reporting on mental illness as well–a change which, by the way, was supported by the NRA. I have no problem arresting felons who try to buy guns at gun stores; the problem is that so few of them do."

    You are, of course, correct in your concluding sentence. The problem, and what you seem to be unwilling to accept, is that the guns that find their way into the hands of felons/lunatics/people-who-shouldn't-have-guns all start out as legal purchases. Pumping more guns into that cycle has a predictable effect. More guns purchased legally by good, law-abiders like you only leads to more guns in the hands of the people that you want to defend yourself against by arming more of America. This isn't the Sudan – our criminals aren't smuggling the guns into the country. They're stealing them and buying them from people who bought them legally. And don't forget that many felons don't become felons until they commit their first crime with a gun they purchased legally.

    Your point about U of Utah's concealed carry law is well-taken. It has not led to an orgy of violence on campus. Can anyone point to evidence that it has served any positive purpose? If it's not causing crime, it's equally fair to say that we don't know that it's preventing crime. So it may just be a wash that's accomplishing nothing but to make you feel better.

    As someone who spends a lot of time in classrooms, I'm more convinced of my safety and the safety of the classroom by an idea like "No one in here is armed" than by "Phew! If a gun-toting assailant comes in here, like 10 of my students can start blasting away at him!"

  32. Shamash Says:

    Ed,
    A few points before I depart for more reasonable climes:

    • I'm not a conservative, freeper, wingnut, dittohead or NRA member
    • I prefer to listen to NPR rather than talk radio
    • I prefer to watch Rachel rather than Billo
    • I voted for Obama rather than McCain
    • I probably found this topic through a link eventually going back to either Crooks & Liars or Kos
    • Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean they are on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum

    I have no idea what I said to be worthy of the insults (other than disagreeing with you), and I won't be back to find out. I prefer to limit my intellectual debates to those capable of debating and at least making an effort to use their intellect. If you spend a lot of time in classrooms, I sincerely hope it is not as a teacher. Your clear willingness to impose authoritarian rules on others and to ridicule dissent rather than foster reasonable debate would make for a very uncomfortable learning environment.

    And feel free to set up a poll. It is your blog, after all.

  33. Nick Says:

    Ed: While straw purchases may be the origin of some criminal guns at the moment, what makes you think that there are no other ways for criminals to get guns? I've already mentioned England a couple times; criminals there have no problem getting handguns despite the fact that they are completely and utterly banned in that country. You don't think the people who smuggle in large quantities of cocaine to the United States couldn't also smuggle in a few thousand AK-47 receivers? Or hell, make them in their basements? It doesn't take much expertise to make a crude firearm–during World War II, teenage British boys built Sten submachine guns in their school metalshop classes. Just because neither of these is the preferred method of firearm acquisition at the moment within the US doesn't mean that any sort of gun control, even an outright ban, would cause more than a tiny hiccup in the black-market firearm economy.

    As for your point regarding the U of U, I've already acknowledged that there's no evidence (that I've seen, at least) beyond anecdotal–which, of course, is mildly useful at best and exists on both sides of the argument–that indicates that concealed carry or higher rates of gun ownership are preventative of crime. But if it doesn't cause problems, why not allow it? If heavier controls on guns don't do anything to prevent crime, why exactly should we enact them? At best such laws are useless.

    You accuse pro-gun types of arguing based on their emotions and feelings, yet in the next breath you write "As someone who spends a lot of time in classrooms, I’m more convinced of my safety and the safety of the classroom by an idea like 'No one in here is armed' than by 'Phew! If a gun-toting assailant comes in here, like 10 of my students can start blasting away at him!'" You acknowledge that the predicted negative effects of legalized concealed carry have not manifested themselves (while the fallacy of "gun-free zones"–that is, they're only "gun-free" if you're talking about legal guns not carried by the criminally insane–is shown pretty much every time some psycho shoots up a classroom), yet for no reason other than your personal feelings you prefer the idea of students being disarmed. Sounds to me like you're only against emotional argumentation if the person in question has feelings different than your own.

    Also, to add to Shamash's point: I'm extremely liberal. I believe in moderate to high tax rates to pay for social services including universal healthcare and education, but I also believe that the government should stay out of my doctor's office, out of my bedroom, and out of my gun safe. I didn't follow some link from a dumbass conservative forum; I'm a long-time reader of this blog (since finding the gin reviews a couple years back). Personal attacks and assumptions don't sound any better coming from you than they do from those you mock.

  34. Ed Says:

    Gee Sam, I was pretty polite, albeit in disagreement with you, until your little "You're losing this argument because I'm so brilliant and you're just being hysterical" post. After that, I was a dick. Imagine that. I wonder why? Perhaps what you consider to be an "intellectual debate" worthy of your time is at odds with mine.

    Nick, I honestly don't think that bringing up England or any other country in Europe serves your argument well. They don't have a fraction of the gun crime that we have. If you're going to pursue that line of argument I hope you are prepared to explain away the correlation: in England they have SOME guns and SOME gun crime. Here we have a fuck-ton of guns and a fuck-ton of gun crime. It would seem to me that those two things are related.

    Second, I wasn't denying the fact that I was expressing my opinion with the classroom statement. Not sure what it accomplishes to call me on it. I was offering two alternatives because I think a reasonable person would see one of them as inherently superior.

    Third, regarding U of U, if it causes no harm why not allow it? Because one time it will cause harm and one time is too many. When the decision is between people's rights and people's lives, I pick the latter every single time. I don't care if 99.999999% of people can handle concealed carry without incident – the one time someone snaps and starts blasting away is not worth the tradeoff.

    On the fallacy of gun-free zones, I wonder if you've ever been in an airplane or a Federal courthouse.

    I go back to the original point, and I read yours carefully because I know you've been around here for years, which I appreciate. My point is not about your right to own a gun. My point is simply that putting more guns in a classroom does not make it safer. When you're at home, hell, I don't care if you go in your yard and fire a .50 cal on full auto at a junked school bus. I don't care if you want to hunt every animal that walks on land. I don't care if you want to go to the shooting range and practice sniping a human-sized target 12 hours per day. Adding more weapons to an environment in which we have a long, sad history of violent shooting incidents does not make sense. When someone with a concealed carry finally snaps and adds to the list, how many people do you think he'll shoot before one of the vigilantes in the class returns fire?

    Your argument seems like it has just punted on safety – like, "Fuck it, we can't get rid of the guns so we might as well arm everyone to the teeth so Good and Evil balance out." Permissive firearms laws got us into this situation, and they're unlikely to get us out of it.

    RE: where criminals get their guns, I'm afraid I'll have to see some evidence before I believe that the majority of guns used in crimes here don't originate in the US as legal purchases.

  35. Nick Says:

    Ed: You of all people should know that correlation does not equal causation. The reason I bring up England is not to compare it to the United States; it's to provide an example of what happens to crime rates when overly restrictive gun laws are put in place. To borrow your phrasing, before England's gun ban they had SOME (legally owned) guns and SOME gun crime; now they have A FEW (legally owned) guns and MORE gun crime. Again, I'm not necessarily stating that fewer guns equals more crime, only that heavier restrictions on guns do not equal a safer society.

    My point with regard to you expressing your opinion is simply that you accuse gun-rights advocates of arguing from a purely emotional point of view (i.e. "having a gun makes me feel safer"), and then you proceed to do it yourself (i.e. "having laws against guns on campus makes me feel safer"). It's not necessarily wrong to express your opinion in such a manner; my point is only that if you're going to do it, it's a bit hypocritical to call out people like ladiesbane for the same thing.

    Re: the U–once again, I don't believe that concealed carry laws have any relevance whatsoever to the likelihood of some psycho blasting away. For example, the shooting that happened at the Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City a few years back (about four blocks from my parents' house) was perpetrated by an 18-year-old. He had a shotgun that was legally purchased, but his handgun was purchased illegally from a convicted felon he worked with, and he sure as hell didn't have a concealed carry permit. In any case, Trolley Square prohibits guns on their property. Yet somehow, his lack of permit and the mall's anti-gun policy didn't stop him from shooting people there. Now, would it have turned out differently if more people in the mall had been armed, due to either higher permit numbers or a different mall policy? It's impossible to say. But I can say that if I'm in that sort of situation, I'd like to have an option that doesn't involve hiding behind a counter and praying to a God I'm not sure I believe in that the psycho won't find me.

    My argument is not "punting" so much as a willingness to try something new. Trolley Square, Virginia Tech, that mall in Omaha, etc, etc. have pretty much shown that "gun free zones" don't work. So why not give students who are allowed by law to carry guns ten feet off campus the opportunity to defend themselves on campus? Hell, citizens with guns helped keep Charles Whitman from killing more people than he did, and that was back in 1966.

    As to your last point, I acknowledged that straw purchases and theft of legal guns was likely responsible for the majority of illegal guns in the US; my point is only that limiting legal purchases won't have much of an effect on the illegal ones.

  36. Ed Says:

    I'd call just about every Western nation on Earth, all of which have stricter gun laws than we do, much safer than the US. Maybe you can share your thoughts about why that is, since it obviously has nothing to do with the easy and substantial availability of firearms in the US compared to those other nations.

    It's been a long day and I'm too tired to post anything remotely coherent, but I will close with this: you are in 100% agreement with Glenn Reynolds on this point. If being ideologically indistinguishable from Glenn Reynolds doesn't give you pause and make you reconsider your position, I don't know what will.

  37. Nick Says:

    Ed: Well, I'd point out that other Western nations tend to have much better social safety nets (in terms of health care, welfare, education, etc.) than we do and much less in the way of drug-related criminal activity. Those two things, I think, are responsible for much of the disparity in homicides and other violent crimes, gun-related or otherwise, between this country and most other Western nations.

    As for your closing point, I'd refer you to one of your own posts:
    http://www.ginandtacos.com/2007/09/19/ed-vs-logical-fallacies-part-4-guilt-by-association/

    "If Osama bin Laden likes something and you also like it, you are his comrade and supporter. Just like how Hitler liked gardening and I like gardening, which confirms that I am a rabid Nazi. The ACLU thinks terrorists should be tried with due process, so the ACLU are terrorists. Your professor does not think Reagan was the greatest president of all time, so he is an ivory-tower liberal trying to brainwash you. What excellent, logical reasoning."

    Well said, Ed of 2007.

  38. Ed Says:

    Oh snap!

  39. Ed Says:

    OK. I have a little more energy now.

    I gave you a high five for calling me on the logical fallacy, but let's explore that idea. Glenn Reynolds is wrong about essentially everything. Excepting, in your opinion, his extremist position on the 2nd Amendment. While you're not automatically wrong because you agree with Glenn Reynolds, I'd think that it would give you reason to pause and consider the odds that everything that comes from Glenn Reynolds' mouth can be wrong (and usually indicative of no forethought whatsoever) and yet he has this one issue dead right.

    Sure, he might be right. Looking at his opinion on just about any other issue, though, I'd say the odds are against it. If I found myself agreeing with the likes of Putz and G. Gordon Liddy and assorted other talk radio asshats, I'd take a big step back and re-evaluate my position in light of those individuals' track records on any other issue.

    Second, there is an inherent contradiction in claiming to be really liberal but having a stridently conservative position on the 2nd Amendment – as several commenters appear to be doing. That puts you in the uncomfortable position of justifying why you're in favor of government restricting individual freedoms in the interest of the common good on a wide range of issues, but not on packing heat. Why do you believe that the government can take people's money but not their guns? How did guns earn special treatment in this set of ideological beliefs?

    It seems like the kind of ideological dishonesty that the right does so well, and I'd prefer it if our side of the political spectrum avoided it. I bet you take the 1st Amendment pretty literally – for example, believing that freedom of religion prohibits government promotion of christian dogma. In that case, as is the $64,000 question of the entire 2nd Amendment movement, I wonder why the "well-regulated militia" part is so readily and easily ignored whenever people decide that, well, we can twist a few rules for the sake of our own preferences.

  40. Nick Says:

    As for being in agreement with conservatives on a particular issue, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Just as there may well be conservatives who disagree with Al Franken on nearly every issue with the exception of, say, gay rights, there are liberals who disagree with Glenn Reynolds et al except on one issue–for some it may be gun rights, others it may be capital punishment, other immigration. Tending to find right-wing pundits idiotic is like any other tendency–there are exceptions to the rule.

    As for the justification for my personal ideology, I tend to see social and economic liberties in different terms. The way I look at it, everyone benefits from some restrictions on personal income–everyone uses roads (or public transit), everyone uses utilities, everyone uses (or at least benefits indirectly from) public education, and the same would apply for programs like universal healthcare. However, restricting a right is a different matter. The government doesn't belong in your website logs, on your phone conversation, in your bedroom, in a stoner's stash box, in a woman's OBGYN visit, or in my gun safe. The only ones who benefit from a restriction of rights (beyond basic restrictions like background checks on guns or shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater) are those in power, not those being governed. Therefore, while I accept taxes and social programs as the cost of living in a society that provides the basic necessities to everyone, I do not accept restriction of my freedom to do what I want so long as it doesn't harm anyone else–I'm a fan of Mill that way, really. My philosophy can best be summed up as "take my money and then leave me the fuck alone."

    As for the "well-regulated militia," the militia was intended to be the whole people–the idea was that everyone (well, at the time, every free male) would have a gun and know how to use it in case of tyranny. Anti-gun activists have the opposite reaction to the overall amendment than the one you discuss; they tend to ignore the phrase "right of the people" in favor of an idea that while the other 8 of the first 9 amendments are individual rights, the Second Amendment is somehow a collective right, and the framers felt the need to write an amendment that basically said "The Army can have guns." In reality, "well-regulated" in the parlance of the times meant "well-trained;" free men were supposed to have their own weapon and practice with it regularly. The militia served the purpose of assuaging fears about a standing army's potential for a coup–so long as the people were armed, they provided a safeguard against domestic tyrants, as well as a secondary force against foreign invasion. Even today, current US Code defines two sections of the "militia"–the "organized militia" (National Guard, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, Army Reserve, etc.) and the "unorganized militia" (every male between 18 and 45, plus any woman who has served in any branch of the military). Under the law, you and I are both members of a militia, as envisioned by the writers of the Constitution. Therefore, I choose to exercise my right to keep and bear arms, and to help make the militia a little more well-regulated by practicing with them.

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